To Hell With Being a Hero!

로유진 - Ro Yu-jin

Chapter 86: It Hurts to Be a Hero (4)

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Chapter 86: It Hurts to Be a Hero (4)

After waking up inside the spring pool, Chi-Woo checked the message he’d been getting every day.

[Purification process of the body in the works… 99%]

“Ah.” He gasped as soon as he saw the number. It wasn’t even 98%, but 99%. He almost felt like the pool was toying with him now, but nevertheless, he got out of the pool a little disappointed. He repeated the same routine today as he did yesterday. He prayed, ate, drank, and exercised. Judging by his biological clock, he believed that morning and lunchtime had pa.s.sed. And while undertaking his dinnertime exercise, Chi-Woo found a path that he hadn’t seen before until now, which was surprising since he had run at least a hundred times in this place by now.

‘Should I go this way?’ Without hesitation, Chi-Woo made the turn. It was steep, but the path itself was gentle and smooth, and he felt like he was running on a flat surface. Furthermore, since it was a straight path, it was a good place to do a sprint. While thinking that he should take this path from time to time, he came upon a crossroad.

‘Where should I go?’ Chi-Woo wondered. Then he came to a sudden halt, feeling a fearsome presence lighting up his senses. His shuddering body was screaming at him to get out of here at once. Chi-Woo whirled around and looked where he had come from. By running up this steep slope, he had reached the upper floor without even realizing it, lulled into a false sense of security because of how easy the path was to run on.

“Ah…”

He froze and heaved heavily, feeling a tingling in the back of his knees like they were going limp. Memories of what had happened before a.s.saulted him—he’d been chased by a mysterious monster until he fell, rolled down to the bottom floor, and cried.

‘No.’ Chi-Woo shook his head. Although he had trained hard for many days, he still lacked the abilities to take on this monster. Even though his physical stats had risen from rank F to E, it didn’t really make a difference; he would be shredded to pieces without ever landing a finger on this monster. Chi-Woo sensed the monster approaching. He had to run, but his body didn’t listen to him. Like a deer in headlights, he was paralyzed. The fear he had faced before was now chaining him to the ground and confusing him.

[Get a hold of yourself!]

If Mimi hadn’t shouted, Chi-Woo would have stood blankly until the monster came. He opened his eyes wide and finally regained enough senses to run back down the path he had taken.

“Ahhhh!” He dashed forward while screaming, not knowing where he was going. He was so stricken with fear that he ran without thinking until he no longer felt the monster’s presence with his synesthesia. Like Hawa had told him, it seemed the monster was unable to come down to the lower floor. Eventually, Chi-Woo saw a familiar path and managed to stop himself.

“Huff! Huff!”

He collapsed to his knees and leaned his head against the wall. His whole body was soaked in sweat, and he couldn’t even breathe properly. It wasn’t just the running. He was as petrified as the first time he ever saw a spirit, knowing that he had barely escaped death again. His hands trembled, and his back burned up from the memory of the pain he had suffered in the past.

‘The trembling…won’t stop.’ Not only were his hands shaking, but his vision was also wavering as well. Chi-Woo closed his eyes. He felt chills spreading through his body as he remembered the sensation of getting his back sliced open. He had been in denial, but he had to admit it now. He was afraid. Afraid of getting cut and hurt again, afraid of dying. Chi-Woo was frightened of this monster.

He pretended to be fine, but it was a facade. Chi-Woo was human and thus p.r.o.ne to human emotions, fear being one of them. He tried to convince himself that his encounter with the monster was one of the many out-of-the-world experiences he had gone through, yet the monster that just threatened his life was no spirit, but a monster. It was a monster of a completely different level, bred from the beings his special abilities held an advantage over; it was a monster that could kill a weak human like him any time.

‘What…’ Chi-Woo clenched his hands into fists. ‘Am…I doing this for…?’ He wondered while biting down his lower lip. What was the point of running every day, drinking holy water, or going through the purification process? When he was just going to run away at key moments like this? No, he wasn’t even able to run away. If he had at least run away of his own will for the sake of his future, he wouldn’t have felt such a deep shame as he did now. Earlier, he hadn’t been able to escape because he was so stricken by fear. He was too afraid of being hurt or dying.

[Have you ever pierced someone with a weapon like this sword?]

Ru Amuh’s words suddenly came to his mind.

[Or have you ever been pierced?]

Chi-Woo opened his eyes wide, his pupils violently contracting. He gritted his teeth and reached out for a sharp rock. Then he lifted it high to strike his own arm.

“…”

But he stopped with his arm in the air. He couldn’t bear to strike himself even while knowing that the spring pool would heal him, and he was in no danger of dying. It was as expected. After all, if one gave weapons to people from Earth and told them to hurt themselves, how many people would be able to do that? Most would hesitate to even pierce their thigh with a needle. That was how an ordinary person would react, and Chi-Woo had been just an ordinary man. The problem was ordinary people had almost no way of protecting themself. Chi-Woo trembled for a while, clutching onto the stone in his hand.

“f.u.c.k!” Eventually, Chi-Woo threw the stone away while cursing. Everything was going wrong.

[But you came back as a hero. So, you must become one.]

Like how Giant Fist was the first to sacrifice his life, he had to be a hero, too.

[If he dies, he dies.]

[It was Giant Fist who chose to come to Liber. He has to take responsibility for his choices, and I am sure that he was at least aware of that before coming here.]

Mua Janya had walked to the altar without hesitation, saying it was her turn now. Unlike these two, Chi-Woo couldn’t take a little pain, much less death.

“ s.h.i.+t…” It felt suffocating, realizing what a pathetic joke he was. In his current condition, it felt like he wouldn’t be able to escape from this situation no matter how hard he struggled.

‘I…’ He couldn’t do anything on Liber. With his head low, Chi-Woo whimpered. Mimi couldn’t find the words to say as she looked at the sorrowful Chi-Woo; she was able to feel his feelings in real time. In retrospect, it had always been like this. Obstacles after obstacles came, and whenever Chi-Woo tried to do something, another obstacle blocked his path like it had been waiting to trip him over. Even though that was the kind of world Liber was, it didn’t change the fact that it was cruel.

[You can’t break down. No matter how painful, or how despairing your situation is, don’t give up. Haven’t you come all this way, surviving everything up to this point?]

Mimi offered some words of comfort, but Chi-Woo responded by snorting.

“It’s so…,” Chi-Woo wanted to add, ‘Easy to say’, but forcefully swallowed his words. It was he who had chosen to come to Liber. Even though he had started to regret his decision now, he only had himself to blame. Chi-Woo leaned his head against the wall and closed his eyes again, helplessly tightening his fists. For a good while, he simply stayed like that without moving at all.

[User Choi Chi-Woo...]

Mimi could no longer find the right words. Silence stretched and smothered the area as time slowly pa.s.sed. After minutes of nothing, Mimi was suddenly hit by a new wave of feeling she hadn’t felt before. It was rage. An immense amount of rage came out of nowhere and overflowed in Chi-Woo’s heart. It was a pure rage without a hint of regret or resentment mixed in, and it wasn’t aimed at the monster or Mimi, but himself. Chi-Woo was mad at himself, enraged that he was such a helpless, stupid idiot.

Haa—

Chi-Woo took a deep breath, shaking his head and glaring at the wall in front of him with piercing eyes. Then—

Bang! Mimi was stunned to see Chi-Woo suddenly knock his head violently against the wall, and he wasn’t satisfied with doing it only once.

Thump, thump, thump, thump!

Repeatedly, he knocked his head more and more forcefully against the wall. Still not satisfied, Chi-Woo bashed his head hard against the black reddish stain on the wall.

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Bang! The insides of his head rang, and he almost lost consciousness. When he pulled away, his vision was obscured by his own blood, which streamed down from his ripped forehead and covered his face. It hurt. It felt like he would collapse from the pain. And yet Chi-Woo didn’t stop. Not only did he slam his head, he hit the wall roughly with his clenched fist multiple times in a row, tearing and bruising his knuckles. Still not satisfied, he picked up the stone he had thrown earlier. Like how he had acted on the spur of the moment before, he stabbed his arm with the sharp piece of rock.

[Are you out of your mind?]

Mimi growled. Chi-Woo laughed humorlessly. Anyone would think he had gone mad. Chi-Woo was still an ordinary person; he hadn’t yet discarded his ordinariness to become a hero, but it was something he couldn’t cut out of himself. Thus, wouldn’t he have to go mad to survive in this crazy world?

He inhaled deeply before taking a step, and his breath came out unsteady as his heart pounded loudly. He was afraid, and there were b.u.t.terflies in his lower stomach. His opponent was a monster said to have appeared in ancient mythologies. Of course, he would be afraid. Chi-Woo didn’t try to deny this fact. He wanted to accept this fear and overcome it head-on—unlike the time he had stood frozen in fear, awaiting his death. He needed to learn how to struggle even while knowing that he might die.

[Just for something trivial like that...!]

It wasn’t trivial. Chi-Woo didn’t know why, but he believed if he backed away now, he would never be able to make any more progress. Conversely, if he pushed forward now, he had a feeling that he would be able to keep getting stronger even more rigorously. Thus, Chi-Woo forced his heavy feet to move.

Legends weren’t born but created. Myths weren’t made up but shaped into being. And history was the amalgamation of both legends and myths. At this moment, a figure who would make new history on Liber made his first step towards his destiny. Chi-Woo stepped onto the upper floor and faced the mud monster.

[Ahhh—!]

Mimi screamed. The mud monster didn’t move immediately, seemingly caught off guard by its prey walking towards it of his own free will. But soon after, mud clumps shot out of the monster and morphed into sharp sickles.

‘It can change parts of its body into weapons.’ This was new information.

As soon as his enemy showed aggression, Chi-Woo turned around. He began to run like mad to another path connected to the upper floor.

‘Should I go straight for now…?’ But then Chi-Wo quickly made a sharp turn when he caught with synesthesia a sharp sensation falling from above him. Fortunately, he was able to respond quickly, and the attack missed him by a hair. After a big move like that, the monster was momentarily immobile, and Chi-Woo seized the opening to increase the distance between them. Chi-Woo was surprised to see how fast the monster caught up to him, but he did his best to maintain his composure. If things became too risky, he could simply jump down, knowing that he would only get a bit hurt. But before that, he had to try to extract as much information as he could. Thus, Chi-Woo did his best to remain level-headed and scanned his surroundings.

‘There are three paths. Here, I should…’ Since he was juggling multiple tasks at once, running as hard as he could while avoiding the monster with synesthesia and surveying his surroundings, he failed to notice the following messages. Only Mimi was able to hear them:

[User Choi Chi-Woo’s Mental Fort.i.tude increases from rank D -> C]

[Sharp] -> [Super] Mental Fort.i.tude

-…

-He’s sensitive to overt, hostile behaviors and, in an emergency, he knows how to prioritize logic above emotions.

-Having lived with anxiety and unexpected happenings for a long time, he is always on high alert. At times, he’s more sensitive than necessary. In extreme situations or when he receives intense stress, he can crack easily and break.

The negative aspects that had inhibited his progress before were erased and evolved in a new direction.

—Sensitive to hostility, he knows how to prioritize logic over emotions in urgent situations. Even in difficult or dangerous situations where many factors are to his disadvantage, he won’t crack easily and will try to overcome them.

With his mind made up and his will carried out, Chi-Woo made substantial progress. Using synesthesia, he succeeded in evading the mud monster’s attack again. There was no training better than real battles. If what Chi-Woo had done until now was exercise, he was really training now. Mimi knew things were finally put into action as she watched Chi-Woo face his fears. Like a resting engine that had been awakened, booming and rumbling as it prepared to run, Chi-Woo’s progress was finally ready to start.

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